LONGVIEW - The long, hard drive to ending a losing streak was literally a long, hard drive for the Longview football team on Friday.
The end to nearly a decade of frustration to Lufkin didn't come from a key scoring play or a key defensive play, but a time-devouring drive. The Lobos held on to the ball for eight minutes, 39 seconds and 83 yards in the fourth quarter, ending with a 24-yard field goal by Zach Decker with 2:07 remaining. The kick was the final points as Longview knocked off Lufkin, 31-24, before 10,000 spectators at Lobo Stadium.
Aided by a long rest break, the Lobo defense ended the game by holding Lufkin to a three plays-and-out possession. A bad snap by Drew Alexander sent Lufkin back to its nine-yard line and the drive stalled at the 20 when a Jeffrey Claybon pass to James Davis was broken up by Jazmon Moon.
The win snaps an 11-game losing streak to Lufkin that stretched back to 1999. Lufkin (4-1), ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press' Class 5A state poll, also had a 36-game winning streak in regular-season games and a 26-game winning streak in non-district games end. Longview (4-1) has won four straight games overall and 15 straight games at Lobo Stadium.
Longview held on after holding a 28-0 lead. Lufkin closed within 28-21 on a 57-yard pass from Claybon to Quentin Ned with 10:08 left in the third quarter.
Lufkin drove to the Longview three-yard line on its first drive of the fourth quarter, but key tackles by Dacorris Ford and Drew Harden forced Lufkin to settle for a 20-yard field goal with 10:46 remaining. That was the prelude to Longview's key late drive, which had 14 running plays, including eight carries for 35 yards by Johnny Garrett.
Running the ball was the key for the Lobos. Quarterback Damion Lewis had his best running game as a Lobo, going for 102 yards on 13 carries, while adding 99 yards passing. Garrett had 81 yards and two touchdowns rushing, while Mark Johnson had 55 yards on 12 carries.
The Lobos played like a team possessed for 19 of the 24 minutes of the first half. They struck first with 6:21 left in the first quarter, when a bad snap by Alexander sailed 29 yards down the field and Moon recovered the loose ball for a touchdown. Lufkin had minus-3 total yards of offense in the first quarter.
Longview's offense started to click late in the first quarter. A 32-yard scramble by Lewis set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by Johnny Garrett with 1:28 left in the first. Lewis had 85 yards rushing on seven carries in the first half.
Longview's next touchdown drive went for 99 yards, with a 56-yard pass from Lewis to Travrus Brown getting Longview out of the shadow of its own end zone. A 32-yard run by Garrett set up an unusual Longview touchdown.
Lewis threw a lateral pass to offensive tackle Frederic Canida, who rumbled in eight yards for a touchdown with 9:02 left in the second quarter.
An interception and 43-yard return by Carziel Martin helped set up a two-yard touchdown run by Garrett with 4:59 left in the first half, giving Longview a 28-0 lead.
The rest of the half belonged to Lufkin, which counter-punched with a 46-yard touchdown run by Christian Hilliard 56 seconds later. Lufkin moved 60 yards in 1:20 on its last drive of the first half, capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Jeffrey Claybon with 29 seconds left in the half, cutting Longview's lead in half, 28-14.
Longview and Lufkin split two games this season, with Lufkin winning the first game, 16-13, on Aug. 31 in Lufkin. Claybon had his second 200-yard passing game against Longview this season, going for 215 yards. Christian Hilliard had 95 yards rushing for Lufkin, while Quentin Ned had 97 yards receiving, all in the second half.
Ford had three tackles for losses, while the Lobos had six. Cody Morrow added an interception for Longview. JaMarcus McFarland had two tackles for losses for Lufkin.
Longview opens District 12-5A play by hosting North Mesquite next Friday.